Because computers don't fix themselves

Archive for July, 2011

Reduce size of winsxs folder

I am contemplating re-imaging my personal computer, and even loading Windows 7 onto a solid state drive for maximum performance. However, when contemplating how large a drive I would need, I realized that Windows 7 was taking up 30 gigs of space on my current drive. That’s waaay too much real estate on a measly 128 gigabyte SSD.

So, in searching for some solutions to this issue, I found this excellent blog post which can help you severely reduce the winsxs folder in your computer. This folder keeps backups of important files in case you need to go back to older versions. Specifically, say, if you were to roll back a Microsoft Service Pack. But, sometimes it keeps way too many files and takes up lots of room. Like, the 11 gigs on my machine. After following this simple tip, I cut that almost in half.


Setting up a New Computer

It seems about half the time of setting up a new computer is uninstalling all the crap that comes on it. There’s tons of software that is pre-installed on most computers, and a lot of it is completely unnecessary and/or even detrimental. Before I do anything, I go to Add/Remove Programs (or Programs and Features) in the Control Panel and start removing stuff.

Here’s a quick guide to what I uninstall before I even start using a new computer.

1). Toolbars

Toolbars are almost always completely unnecessary, and usually slow down your internet experience. You can use add-ons or links to do everything a toolbar does, without having to load extra software. Some of the ones that commonly come on new computers:

- AOL toolbar
- Bing bar
- Google Toolbar
- Skype Toolbars (Skype is a good program. You can leave it. Skype toolbars are rarely used.)
- Yahoo Toolbar

2). Registration

I’ve never been a fan of online registration. Computer companies can tell exactly when you bought the computer by looking up your serial # or system tag. Registering your computer primarily adds you to their mailing list so that you get more spam, and doesn’t give a whole lot more benefit. Plus, it’s annoying when it keeps popping up asking for you to register. So, just remove anything that says registration in it.

3). Anti-Virus and/or Internet Security

Most computers come with Norton or McAfee. As you might know from other posts, I consider these two pieces of software the devil. Trend/Micro is a common 3rd offender. It’s not nearly as bad as the first two. Plus, quite often the pre-installed one is a limited trial anyway. But, If you want a boost in performance, and a less expensive and higher quality protection, remove the one that came with the computer and use a combination of Avira and Malwarebytes instead.

Whatever you do, though, don’t load two different virus checking programs. That will make your computer slow to a halt. Choose one virus checker and one malware checker, and stick with them.

4). Online backup software

Many new computers are coming with some sort of branded online backup. Norton and Dell are two common ones. I highly recommend using an online backup service. However, I prefer Carbonite to the pre-installed ones. Just like virus checkers, definitely do not load two different online backup programs. If you’re going to use Carbonite, make sure to remove the pre-installed ones.

5). Branded power management and wireless management software

Dells and Lenovo laptops are notorious for this. Windows can handle power settings and wireless network management just fine. So, there’s no reason to load an additional software to handle this instead. Except to put their name in your face. So, remove them. It’ll speed up your computer. Just be sure not to accidentally remove an actual driver.

For example: Intel wireless management utility is completely redundant. But, if you remove it, it also removes the wireless driver. Instead, just go into the settings of the Intel wireless utility and disable it (choose the option to let windows manage wireless networks).

If you remove all these, your computer will be clean and quick from day one.